Oh, synergy is very much a reality in my experience.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
You have to first accept that upstream components can sounds quite different. On the one hand, certain gear masks trouble spots on a particular transducer, so some folks might find it a good pairing. Personally I don't like this approach much because it can also mask detail. Ideally, I want gear that will allow the character of the transducer to come through without masking anything too much, but also without setting off or spotlighting those problem areas. In other words something with a bright tilt will make a bright headphone even brighter.
Impedance matching and power requirements do play a role in sound signature to an extent, however. For instance the SR-007 will sound a bit flabby and dark unless you put enough power behind it.
Personally, I want upstream components---especially a source---that are as unobtrusive as possible, though even in this sense there's a lot of room for variation. For one thing, there are differing "flavors" of approximations of neutrality (since a true wire-with-gain is elusive illusive). The ZDSE for instance is an extremely transparent sounding amp in line with the rest of Eddie Current gear in my experience, but it has a subtle though distinct midrange sweetness. May not be a big deal for a lot of folks, but it's part of what makes it the best choice in his lineup for the TH900, even over the ECBA in my humble opinion.
Also it's not enough to just measure well on paper in certain areas in my experience. Some very well known gear that is also very well know to measures well in certain areas... well... in certain other areas it doesn't do so well. For instance a lack of effortlessness---something I refer to as the clenched buttcheck or tight arsed effect---that results from amps sounding too constricted. Another example is a certain highly regarded wunderkind amp's unrefined, grainy treble. Not so bad with the HD650, especially the earlier variants, but with the HD800... whoooboy.
I think there's just too much variation on both the gear-end and the user-end to not talk about synergy, as some folks like their Lebens.
As they say, if life gives you Lebens...
Yeah the "worth" thing is a slippery slope for me, one I try to avoid. I personally don't feel comfortable assigning exact monetary value to the way something sounds, and I've always poked fun at the head-fiers' arithmetic, the assumption that a headphone that costs three times as much as another for instance needs to sound three times as good in order to be justifiable.
In only really makes sense on a relative / comparative scale, ie. "here's what else I can get for x amount." IDK, for me the hobby has always been about music listening and the appreciation of gear in and of itself as mutually coexisting. Headphones for me have always been cultural artifacts and artistic statements, so I tend to see value as more multi faceted.
Aww, poo. I'm glad I can freely express my inner Culture Club tendencies. I might order the 3DD in universal form myself at some point out of curiosity. That or the Elpis. Rooth's CIEMs were always some of the best when it came to translating them into universal form, if the demo units are anything to go by.
I preferred the Liquid Gold with the LCD-3, but the Liquid Glass is more flexible 'cuz of the tube rolling factor. I actually think the stock tubes sound quite good with Audez'e headphones, but if you want to experiment 12SN7s are the way to go IMHO as they're fairly inexpensive compared to 6SN7s but sound pretty much similar. 6GU7 are also relatively inexpensive, but I have less experience with them.
Personally, I'd like to do some experimenting with 6F8Gs which were the predecessor to the 6SN7 I believe. The LG can't accept them directly, but you can use an adapter to run them.
Nice. Who makes them? Sansui always made stylish headphones. I also want to track down some old Ashidavox at some point.
Driver transplants FTW. Go planar magnetic!
EDIT: Nice post, a_rec! Made my morning.
EDIT #2: The most straight forward definition of synergy I can think of, as it pertains to this hobby, is how well one perceives two pieces of gear get along with one another.
A wonderfully insightful post.....
I would like to add that, one cannot not synergize components, if one does not have a reference to synergize to
Edited by spkrs01 - 5/19/13 at 9:49am